Informality in Education / Music / Thanksgiving!

Informality in Education

Teaching has, for me, been an informal activity.  What I mean by this is that students call me by my first name and students talk more freely.  My informal definition of a good lesson is when students both learn something new, and laugh at least once during class.  There of course needs to be a balance between formality and informality, especially in a Math class, but my personality lends itself to the informal end of the spectrum.  Having students call me by my first name is something many teachers I have spoken with wouldn’t do, but is still important to me.  Perhaps I am not yet ready for the title “Mr. Farrell”.  Respect is very important in a classroom, and my belief is that students referring to me by my first name will increase respect instead of diminish it.  The entire classroom dynamic relies on mutual respect between students and the teacher.  In general, names are very important to me.  I try my best to learn my students’ names as quickly as possible, especially at the University.  Stony Brook is such a big school that it is possible that none of a students’ professors or teaching assistants know their name.  Of course, the classes I have taught at Stony Brook have had < 50 people in them which made learning names much easier.  To the reader: Think of a time you met someone, just briefly.  Perhaps days or weeks later, you see them again and they say “Hey (insert your name here)! How ya doin’?”  It feels good when someone remembers you.  This is something I try to do for my students within the first few days of class.  With all this being said, it should be noted that I have been very uncomfortable in the past referring to cooperating teachers by their first name, even when they request it.  Still, I am curious to learn what advice my cooperating teachers this coming Spring semester will give in reference to me and students being on a first-name basis.


One of the many reasons I love it here in Budapest is the people I’ve met.  It seems I can always find someone that shares an interest with me.  For example, I like to play music, to sing music, and occasionally, to write music.  Some of the students in the same BSME program also like these things!  It goes without saying that I like music.  99% of people like music.  Many of my friends know that one of my absolute favorite bands is Imagine Dragons.  Much like books, I like the type of music that makes me feel something; Happy, sad, nostalgic, relaxed, energized, overwhelmed.  These are all feelings I get from music.  Imagine Dragons in particular reminds of my family.  A lyric that has recently resonated with me from an Imagine Dragons song which I believe is less known: The Unknown:

“Mama bless me, with magnet eyes for purple.”

I am very lucky to have found a group of friends that not only enjoys the same music as I do, but will also sing loud and without care.

Thanksgiving Day Picture!

Our Thanksgiving Feast in all its glory:

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